Sally (not her real name) wrote to me, thanking me for the part I played in her life 30 years ago, helping to lay a foundation of faith. Between then and now, she lost her way. Her words: “After a few failed suicide attempts and many failed relationships, lots of drinking, even drugs – I knew I was lost. I was alone. Yet God NEVER abandoned me. I always felt his presence, all the while ignoring it, but knew it was Him. I felt convicted, horrible and like the worst Christian ever. I don’t know if I even considered myself a Christian. I was lost.”
Several years ago, she was touched by the Spirit. She and her husband found their way to a church, heard the Word, wept through the sermons, and received God’s grace anew. The rest of her story goes like this: “After a while we joined a small group and … our relationship with Jesus continues to grow. … It’s a process. My relationship with my Heavenly Father continues to grow in the new light of my adulthood, thanks to the foundation you, your family, and mine instilled upon me.”
Her story is one I have heard a thousand times, only the names change and yet I never tire of hearing them and I always well up with emotion – full of such gratitude that God loves sinners, pursues us when we ignore Him, and gives us life we do not deserve when we turn to Him! “Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2, NIV) “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, NIV) “For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17, NLT)
Do you know ‘grace?’ Do you treasure the amazing gift of God?
There is nothing that the Evil One hates more than grace. As long we are gazing at ourselves, taken up with our attempts to ‘get it right,’ trying to earn a sense of being in good standing with our Creator, we will fall and fail, stumble and stagger, exist in darkness. But, when we give up and fall on His mercies, we find an amazing grace. Paul uses all kinds of superlatives to describe it. “Immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” (Ephesians 2:4-10, The Message)
Are you a gracious Christian who knows his own total depravity and yet lives in love because you have been changed by grace? Or, are you one of those who claim Christ’s love but still hang onto attempts at self-righteousness, quick to judge those who are enslaved by Self, unaware of your own lapses, gaps, and hypocrisy? The most beautiful Christians are those who experience a ‘grace awakening’ (thank you, Chuck Swindoll) and are transformed into loving, hopeful, holy saints.
The Christmas story is a grace story. John sums it up like this: “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. … Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— …The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:10, 12, 14, NIV) Receive the Gift! I did, again this morning, and renewed my hope and assurance. Won’t you?
This Is Amazing Grace
Who breaks the power of sin and darkness,
Whose love is mighty and so much stronger?
The King of Glory the King above all kings!
Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder,
Who leaves us breathless in awe and wonder?
The King of Glory the King above all kings!
This is amazing grace,
This is unfailing love,
That You would take my place,
That You would bear my cross.
You laid down Your life
That I would be set free.
Oh Jesus, I sing for all that You’ve done for me.
Who brings our chaos back into order,
Who makes the orphan a son and daughter?
The King of Glory, the King of Glory!
Who rules the nations with truth and justice,
Shines like the sun in all of its brilliance?
The King of Glory, the King above all kings!
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
Worthy is the King who conquered the grave.
Worthy, worthy, worthy!
Jeremy Riddle | Josh Farro | Phil Wickham
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